Thursday, 8 October 2009

They came back

I aware I don’t write too much about the work we’re involved in and so today’s post will do something to redress that balance – or imbalance, if you prefer! We are team leaders for Novi Most International, a Christian charitable organisation providing youth work in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rowan and I are only too aware that when you mention youth work many people can’t see past labelling you as a teenager who never grew up; someone who prefers playing and hanging out to growing up and taking on the real world. Everybody’s entitled to an opinion but there’s a lot to be said for informal education, which is what good youth work will provide.

Whether you take a snapshot of education in the UK or in BiH you won’t have to look hard to see that the formal education process only work for so many people. For others it just does do it for them. That’s why we hear of so many rules or coercions, threats or incentives deployed in the classroom. Some would tell you that part of the problem is that young people have to be in school – they don’t often choose to go. And that’s where youth work is different. They choose to opt in to the informal education process. If it doesn’t work for them they will stop turning up.

This week we re-opened Klub, our youth centre, after a post-summer break of a month. Our previous youth work experience in England has taught us that breaks can be interesting things; sometimes whole groups of young people ‘disappear’ during them! New courses, extra homework, different friends: all of these can have an effect on attendance. But this week we’ve seen many of our regulars from the summer choosing to come back for more. We aim to create a place they want to belong but no one can force them. Their walking through the door is a huge endorsement of what Novi Most is doing.

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